May 05, 2018 News
Today, we at Kaieteur News join the nation to celebrate Arrival Day as we do so, we pray that we all [the races of our nation] continue to strive to embrace our motto of ‘One People, One Nation and One Destiny’ as we move forward as a unified nation.
Below are some messages to commemorate Arrival Day 2018.
MINISTER OF SOCIAL COHESION, DR. GEORGE NORTON
Today, we celebrate the true essence of our nation – our ancestors and their arrival to these shores. Guyana is a product of six peoples – Our First Peoples, the Amerindians, along with the Europeans, Africans, Portuguese, Chinese and East Indians. Together, they birthed a culturally distinct nation, and as we bask in the glory of all that we are as a people, it is important that we honour our ancestors, who transformed a land that witnessed their blood, sweat and tears, into a place that each of us can now find solace.
I believe that even before we attempted to become ‘One People’ of ‘One Nation’, we were all following ‘One destiny’. It seems more than a mere coincidence that six very different peoples, with their own cultures, traditions and beliefs could be so neatly amalgamated to create one single identity – that of the Guyanese. I describe it as sheer brilliance, perhaps orchestrated by a divine force.
Arrival of the East Indians
May 5 calls for double celebration, as it marks the 180th anniversary since the arrival of the first batch of Indian Immigrants. They came as Indentured labourers in 1838, on two ships – S.S. Whitby and the Hesperus.
Between the years 1838 and 1917, a total of 240,000 Indians arrived. They weathered the cruelties of indentureship, and when that system ended more than a century ago, approximately 70 percent of the Indian Immigrants who came, chose to persevere and make Guyana their home. Today, their descendants account for approximately 40% of the country’s population, and have made invaluable contributions to the growth of every facet of this nation – academically, politically, culturally, etc.
The Indian culture is an integral part of Guyana’s vibrant identity – from the foods and clothing to the religions and holidays. Guyanese of Indian origins have been successful in keeping their traditions and practices alive, while remaining respectful of those of their brothers and sisters of different ancestry.
On this occasion of Arrival Day, let us all pledge to intensify our roles in building this nation. Our ancestors did that for us, and we now, owe it to those who may come after. Let us unite to build our country. Happy Arrival Day Guyana!
PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONGRESS REFORM
The People’s National Congress Reform joins all like-minded groups, here at home and in the Diaspora, in celebrating the 180th Anniversary of the arrival of East Indians in Guyana. This occasion offers the opportunity for the nation as a whole to recognise the important role that our East Indian ancestors and fellow compatriots have played in the development of Guyana.
The Party also believes that this is also an opportunity for the nation to understand that we all share a common destiny and that racial harmony, tolerance and understanding are essential to the further and overall development of this country.
The development of Guyana can no longer be deferred; it is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders, especially political parties, and all relevant social groups and organisations make a firm commitment to exercise honesty, maturity and good judgment in order that this nation can put an end to racism, which has often stymied the development of our society and nation.
The PNCR, therefore, calls on all our citizens to reflect on the significance of this occasion and to take to heart the lesson that racial harmony and understanding are the keys to our survival and long-term development.
PEOPLE’S PROGRESSIVE PARTY
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) takes this opportunity to extend greetings to all Guyanese on the occasion of Arrival Day, observed on May 5. It is a day of much significance and one that has been designated to commemorate the arrival of all Guyanese ancestors who came to our nation’s shores at various points of our history.
Arrival Day also affords us the opportunity to be imbued with a tremendous sense of pride and reflect on the selfless and invaluable contributions our ancestors and their descendants made to the development of our nation.
Their untold sacrifices and resoluteness, which must not be allowed to be forgotten, led to the building of a strong nation and improved standards of living for future generations.
The determined efforts of our ancestors, despite the hardships they faced, to remain steadfast and to preserve their cultural traditions have led to the creation of a rich and colourful mosaic, which is our multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural Guyana. This diversity has become our hallmark.
As we all observe this day and to pay homage to our ancestors, who braved dark seas during their arduous journey, our Party urges reflection of their valiant efforts so that we can all continue to be inspired and be better able to contextualize the value of our gains.
Inspired by the sacrifices and achievements of our ancestors, we must remain determined to build upon the gains that have been made to: ensure that our country remains a place for all of it sons and daughters; to safeguard our hard won freedoms; to ensure that peace is not compromised; and to ensure that the safety of our people is paramount.
Our Party would also like to commend all those who have worked steadfastly over the years and those who continue to do so in the promotion of activities designed to foster greater awareness and preserve our history, values and cultural traditions. Happy Arrival Day to all!
GUYANA AGRICULTURAL AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION
As our country once again observes Arrival Day, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) takes the opportunity to extend greetings and best wishes to the people of Guyana. The observances always serve to remind us of the rich diversity and the unique multi-cultural composition of our nation. Indeed, it adds to the specialness of Guyana that people of different backgrounds can co-exist in harmony and unity as they all seek to improve their lives, a goal linked to building our country, which will surely augur well for the future generations.
While Arrival Day – May 5 – though largely associated with the arrival of East Indians, the day reminds us of all indentured immigrants brought to our land. Our research advises us that outside of the East Indians, the Madeiran Portuguese came in May 1835, the Chinese in 1853, as well as a few other ethnicities during that phase of colonialism. We are aware that the colonialists brought also labourers from Malta, Ireland, Germany and England.
Arrival Day also reminds us of the reasons for the indentureship system. The then immigrants who replaced the emancipated slaves were made to toil in the fields of the sugar plantations to enrich the foreign owners of the plantations.
Indentured labourers and their families were forced to exist in inhumane and atrocious conditions. And, like their compatriots, they were forced to engage in several struggles, which gave us several martyrs, in order to bring about small improvements and meagre benefits in their lives and work conditions.
Today, as we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU cannot fail to observe that the industry that cushioned our diversity is under severe threat. We are disheartened to note that the sugar industry, a large source of sustenance for thousands of Guyanese, has been minimized. For the workers and their families, the cane farmers, the shop owners, the market vendors, the bus drivers and others, the Sword of Damocles hangs over their heads as they are thrown into a state of great uncertainty and anxiety as the Administration, without remorse, closed the doors of several estates.
It is disturbing that, at this time that their heirs of the labourers along with other fellow workers are forced to contend with harrowing circumstances arising from closure. It is especially disturbing for the Union that such thoughts are entertained especially when they are unnecessary. Sugar, we reiterate, has all possibilities of success but among other things, requires the active and material support and confidence of the powers-that-be.
As we celebrate Arrival Day, the GAWU urges all Guyanese to spare a moment to reflect on how far as a people we have come, the challenges we overcame, and the successes we have recorded. At this time, when we ought to be looking to reach new and higher plateaus, we see concerted efforts that will very likely reverse much of the progress that we have made and rightly can take pride in. Let us resist such efforts and get back on the development track.
GAWU joins with all Guyana to celebrate Arrival Day.
INDIAN ACTION COMMITTEE
The Indian Action Committee (IAC) wishes all Guyanese a Happy Arrival Day, and, especially, calls upon all citizens to remember the 180th Anniversary of the Arrival of East Indians to Guyana.
The IAC, an organization, which promotes and preserves Indian culture and deals with the issues and concerns of persons of Indo-Guyanese origin, over the years has provided Guyanese with historical information regarding the arrival of just over 239,000 Indian immigrants who came to this country aboard 245 Coolie Ships which made a total of 534 voyages across the Kaalaa Paanii between 1838 and 1917.
The IAC also has clarified and corrected statistical errors pertaining to the arrival of the first two Coolie Ships, the WHITBY and the HESPERUS, which between them landed a total of 423 persons including 382 indentured males, 14 indentured females, 21 children and 6 Christian Anglo- Indian interpreter/ superintendents.
The IAC, as the organization has done over the years continues to recognize the endeavours by these Indian immigrants and their descendants, the persons of Indo-Guyanese origin, to develop this country.
The IAC, which has recognized important contributions by giving awards to persons from Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo, is aware that tens of thousands of East Indians have made valuable efforts in all fields of human activity in this country including business and commerce, banking and finance, the sugar and rice industries, coconuts and other crops, fishery and livestock, mining and quarrying, forestry and sawmilling, education and academia, medicine and law, journalism and communications, accounting and insurance, private and national security, the hospitality and aviation sectors, the alcohol and beverage industries, sport and entertainment, culture and religion, and politics, and governance.
As all Guyanese share in this commemoration, the IAC is cognizant of the sharp downturn in Guyana’s economy over the past few years, evidence being the steadily declining economic growth rate and the worrying fact that the country’s Foreign Currency reserves have dropped below US$500 million for the first time since 2009, and in combination with global economic events, hardships have fallen upon the poor class of Guyanese especially those dislocated in the sugar industry and those currently threatened by the planned downsizing of part of the bauxite industry.
The IAC is saddened by the surge in criminal activity in recent years and is shocked and horrified, that on the eve of this significant commemoration, in excess of a dozen Guyanese fishermen have been brutally murdered by pirates, believed to be other Guyanese fishermen.
The IAC is nauseated by the egregious sedition clause that was included in the proposed Cyber Crime Bill and calls upon all Guyanese to oppose this deliberate act to deny the citizens of this country, including those of Indo-Guyanese origin; the democratic right to freely express themselves without fear since it runs contrary to international norms and violates our supreme law, the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
Today, when the IAC looks back, the organization is amazed how those groups of seemingly helpless Indians, many of whom were illiterate, speaking in different tongues, following different customs, belonging to different religions, belonging to different castes, over the generations, managed to fuse together while seamlessly merging into the wider environment to become the strong pillar of Guyana, a young nation born out of sweat and toil, along with similar endeavours of the other ethnic groups that comprise this nation. A Happy Arrival Day to all!
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